Avoid An Apostrophe Catastrophe 1

This entry is part 9 of 14 in the series Clear And Simple Writing

That infamous apostrophe ! The one that many of us struggle with. When do we add an apostrophe? What are the rules? Confusing? Not really! Strangely, in the English language showing the possessive form of nouns is rather straightforward. In most cases (with singular nouns) all that is needed is an apostrophe and the letter ‘s.’ We just need to get the rules right.

Yes, there are rules and it is not like playing pinning the donkey although I’ve seen some writers do that! 😉

avoid an apostrophe catastrophe


How to avoid an apostrophe catastrophe

Possessive Uses of ‘S’ 


The boy’s books were neatly piled on the shelf. – one boy
The dog’s bowl is filled with kibbles. – one dog.
The bird’s cage needs cleaning. – one bird.

Did you notice what we did? Added an apostrophe and ‘s’ to show that the books, the bowl, the cage belonged to the boy, the dog and the bird respectively!


Remember, in most nouns we add an ‘s’ already to make them plural. Now watch how the apostrophe moves when the possessive is a plural noun.

The boys’ books were neatly piled on the shelf. – more than one boy.
The dogs’ bowls are filled with kibbles. – more than one dog.
The birds’ cages need cleaning. – more than one bird.


Simple, isn’t it? So where’s the confusion then? The confusion arises with the word contractions – when two words are combined, an apostrophe is used. For example – you + have = you’ve / we + are = we’re/  it + is = it’s

It’s time to give the dog’s  food. – combination of ‘it’ and ‘is’

The dog want its bone. – ‘it’ does not use an apostrophe to show possession.

“It’s not a good idea to try to take the dog’s bone when it’s playing with it.”


Now one more confusing usage of the apostrophe is when the possessive noun ends with an ‘s’. For example – Silas, Jones.

That is Silas’ house.

That is Silas’s house.

That is Paul Jones’ house.

That is Paul Jone’s house.

However, when referring the Jones family – we first add an ‘es’ to make the noun plural and then the apostrophe.

That is the Joneses’  house.  (Jones + es + apostrophe).

I’m hoping this clears any confusion you might have had about using the apostrophe. I have deliberately left out some more uses of the apostrophe and will cover them in another post.  However, if you need any clarifications, I’d be happy to assist.


Now for our Wednesday Prompt:

Write a post, a poem, a story, a song even using the following :

 my two cents’ worth

When you’ve finished come back and add your link to the linky below. Remember to visit at least one post linked before yours.



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About corinnerodrigues

A lover of words. A self-acceptance blogger. A book reviewer.
A woman happily journeying through midlife, moving from self-improvement to self-acceptance and enjoying being herself. I blog here and on Everyday Gyaan and CorinneRodrigues.com. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+


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